By Alexandria Zine 

The fastidious requirements of the pandemic have rustled the alignment of the Foreign Film Series, but not as greatly as one would think. The virtual series provides a curated list of foreign Academy-Award winners to watch on the Kanopy streaming service, and the option to potentially discuss the week’s film on Tuesday afternoons between 4 and 5 p.m. using Zoom. Cape Cod Community College (4Cs) students and the college’s outsiders can view the films independently and then unwind during these virtual discussions if they so choose, adding a bit of flexibility to the cinematic enjoyment. A Kanopy membership is available through the Wilkens Library or one’s public library, with the Boston Public Library offering an ecard for it. Unfortunately, the social setbacks still stick to the current state of the series. 

“The drawbacks are missing the personal connection. There’s something about sitting in a dark theatre, just sharing an experience with people,” said Cindy Pavlos, who has been the administrative assistant of the English Language and Literature department, as well as the Honors program for 18 years. “People would bring snacks and bags of popcorn, and sit in Lecture Hall A. It was a real theatre experience, so that’s the drawback. That we’re not together anymore in that way.” 

Along with the establishment of the series’ 25th anniversary this year, this weekly congregation has been subjected to a heartening surge in the number of participants. According to Pavlos, the first film discussion mustered 12 participants, which jumped to 17 in the second meeting on October 20th. Now that there is more flexibility in viewing the films, whether it is the timing or the formatting, the series has gathered more cinematic minds. The series has continued to enthrall viewers for years, with Pavlos noting that “…(we) have some regulars who came in-person every Tuesday. I’ve seen them once a week for years now!”  

The Kanopy streaming service provides between 8 (at the Boston Public Library), and 10 films (at the Mashpee and Barnstable public libraries) every month. “People who are not on-campus/current students and faculty,” said Pavlos, “they’re accessing the films through Kanopy at their local library. I go through the Boston Public Library because they have a great Kanopy streaming service, and the librarians are so knowledgeable. I would just advise people to call the library, and they’ll walk them through the process of how to get to Kanopy and find a film. That’s what they do!” She also feels that “…this Kanopy service was the answer to our prayers.” 

“I feel like foreign films are like a window into the world,” said Pavlos, “and right now, we need all of those windows that we can get because we can’t go anywhere!”

If one would like to utilize these windows, then email Pavlos at cpavlos@capecod.edu to receive the Zoom link. Pavlos sends out a “unique link for security purposes” as it prevents potential ‘Zoom bombing’.

One of the viewers, Fausta Boscacci, whose Zoom room had a surfeit of books and film posters, concurs with Pavlos view of the series being a vital window, especially in a pandemic. She has been in this country for 10 years since leaving Brazil and feels that it is scarcely easy to find an immense source of foreign cinema, unless one is in New York. Since joining the series two years ago, she feels that “it’s the perfect film festival!” There is a fondness for the astuteness of this series, with “people being more aware of the historical context, and everlasting wars/conflicts…” within Boscacci. 

Another viewer, Gloria Zakon, who is a former English teacher and a new member of the series, loves the constant direction and interactions that the meetings yield. Preceding her visits to the Cape Cod Cinema, Zakon used to consume the Nickelodeon theatre’s film, art, and opera. Since the emergence of COVID-19, she just uses the Kanopy streaming service and attends the film discussions. “That’s been a boom for me.” As an English teacher and a participant of a third book club, Zakon loves the fact that “…there’s a theme and not people selecting random books/films.” Most importantly, the cycling of her social potentiality emboldens her greatly. Zakon is quite lonely day-after-day, being a widow and an elderly woman, due to the pandemic. When her son came to Cape Cod to visit her, as his daughter was back from college, the three of them did not have the opportunity to truly reunite. “There were 3 people with masks on one side of the living room and I was on the other side.” Her tremulousness toward solitude subsides a bit with the Foreign Film Series. 

So far, the eclectic film selection has consisted of a 2010 film of a musically infused Cuban love story between October 7th and 13th (Chico & Rita), a 2018 film of a legal take on the Palestinian and Israeli schism between October 14th and 20th (L’Insulte), and a 2015 film on a tumultuous love story on a South Pacific island between October 21st and 27th (Tanna). The complete film schedule is available on the 4Cs website after one generates the search. This week’s discussion on L’Insulte did cover both personal and collective connections to the film, along with facts about the cinematography. According to Pavlos, the filmmaker, Ziad Doueiri, was Quentin Tarantino’s camera man in Pulp Fiction, and this experiential knowledge molded his technique. 

According to Lore De Bower, one of the series’ organizers, they “…put together an inclusive list. It covers time and geography.” A 1970 Sophia Loren film titled Sunflower is a part of the selection and is set for viewing and a discussion in the beginning of December. All in all, the variety of the Foreign Film series seems to be a refresher during the dull patterns of quarantine.